CLEVELAND — is traveling around the country like a group of tent evangelists trying to get the word out to any small business that will listen: ?Local Search is IMPORTANT and it’s important to every business and not just pizza shops and retail businesses. This past week they were in Cleveland with SEO experts on hand to help small businesses learn the best local search tips and get the best local search resources and advice.

If you haven’t noticed, it seems like everyone and their 3-year-old has a mobile device. There are nearly 5 billion cell phones in use WORLDWIDE. And 22.4 million of them are used to access information on the internet. This means just about every person on the planet is walking around with a cell phone.

A Change in Buyer Behavior

In early April, I spoke with a team from Thermopylae Sciences. We talked about how our interaction with computers and mobile devices has pushed developers to look for ways to help us transition from out computers to our mobile devices. It’s no secret that the Star Trek apps of the future are here NOW. Let me explain.

Let’s say that you’re planning a trip online in your office. You make reservations, you check out some restaurants and then you head out the door. Wouldn’t it be great to have all your information with you on your mobile device. And then let’s say you are walking around the city and you decide to check out some new stuff. Maybe you use Layar or maybe you use Bing or Google Local to see what else is around you. And that means that the businesses listed on those sites will be visible to you and the ones that aren’t — won’t. Another important point is that you may be traveling on business and want to find the company where you’re having your meeting. Shouldn’t you be able to see them on the local search as well — EXACTLY.

What You May Not Know About Local Search – But Need to Implement NOW

  1. Local search is INDEXED. This means that if you want to get found, you need to be listed. Mike Blumenthal, and expert on local search said it best “Google is like a vacuum cleaner; it sucks in data and amplifies it.” ?Please be sure to visit Mike’s site for slides and details about the University.
  2. The Trend is Toward “Decision” Engine. Maryam Gholami, a product manager from was there to explain exactly what “Decision Engine” meant.’s research showed that people were using search engines to decide on where to go and what to buy. They also learned that not nearly enough businesses were listed in their data bases to make that effective. “Every small business needs to get to the Bing Local Listings Center and fill out a full profile.
  3. Post Reviews . Every business should encourage their customers and clients to post reviews. EVEN if you’re not a retail business. Remember, local listings are indexed and searched. Companies with a local listing, keyword rich description, reviews and pictures will give potential customers a more complete picture and show them that you are serious and REAL. Another hint is to be sure to ask customers to rate you with the star ratings. And don’t worry about bad reviews — they actually help you. Would you really believe any company that had ALL positive reviews?!
  4. Post Pictures. Again, this isn’t just for the local folks to post pictures of their restaurants. If you’re a consultant or business to business company, post pictures of your product or people using your service.
  5. Consultants, Freelancers, and Home Offices Need to Post an Address. There is no easy way to say this. Search engines like real addresses. They don’t like PO boxes. Anita Campbell recommended going to a UPS store and getting a real address there (if you’re hesitant about posting your home address). Another option is to use the address of a temporary office space – such as Office Space Co-Working which has locations all over Northeast Ohio. Google wants to see a real address. You will have to make the decision of whether the reward of being found is greater than the risk of being stalked.
  6. Use Social Media Creatively to Promote Your Local Business. Matt McGee, the expert on local blogging and social media marketing for local small business was also on hand. His big message was to get your content out there. Your biggest defense against large corporate companies is to provide valuable content and lots of it to your local audience. Use contests, Twitter and Facebook to run promotions. (Check outWildfire – an App that will get you started quickly and easily). And check out the Matt’s plethora of slides from the University Presentation in Cleveland for ideas, resources and examples.
  7. Get Help. Anita Campbell from Small Business Trendswas the perfect salve on the set of presentations with her advice to learn a little – but get help. Learn enough to ask good questions, automate your social media as much as you can without sacrificing authenticity and get as much help as you need in those admin areas of running your search and social media marketing. I loved her recommendation to look at virtual assistants for this task.

If you were at all like me and thought that local search was just for local businesses – I hope that this article has opened your eyes to the marketing possibilities that are open to you whether you’re a local retailer or a national or international consultant. Get your local search listing in order — TODAY.

What’s been your experience with local search? ?Got any tips? We’d love to hear them! ?Leave your tip or comment below!

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